NORMAN — Three students in the University of Oklahoma's Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication are preparing for a long-term reporting project examining voting rights in Texas.
OU students Ana Lastra, Annelise Russell and Lindsey Ruta will spend the summer working with other students from journalism schools across the country to produce a series of in-depth stories and multimedia packages on the topic of voting rights.
The project is a part of News21, a journalism education initiative sponsored by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
To prepare for the project, each of the three students is taking a satellite course this semester taught by Leonard Downie Jr., former Washington Post executive editor. Over the summer, the students will leave for a 10-week fellowship at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.
Although she hasn't been assigned a specific story yet, Ruta, a senior, said she and her teammates are researching Texas voter law to find out what issues are at play and developing ideas for how to pursue those issues.
Ruta said she wasn't familiar with the program when she learned she had been selected to be a part of it. This is OU's first year to participate in News21, and the first notice she received about it was a congratulatory email telling her she'd been accepted.
“I thought it was too good to be true at first,” she said.
In the weeks to come, Ruta said she expects she'll be doing more research into Texas voter rights issues. She'll be traveling to Texas over her spring break to talk to stakeholders, she said, and she plans to be in Austin for the Texas Primary, which was recently pushed back to late May.